The innocuous, good-natured “Home Again” is a sweet little doe-eyed rom-com that delivers more than it promises. What a pleasure to see a film that’s lighthearted and free from the raunch that dominates most chick flicks nowadays.
Reese Witherspoon brings her usual plucky persona to the party as Alice, a recently separated mother of two who has moved from New York back to her childhood home in Los Angeles. On the night of her 40th birthday, the newly single woman meets a trio of broke aspiring filmmakers (Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, and Jon Rudnitsky) at a bar and after an evening of drinking (among other things), she decides to let the guys move into her guest house. Soon after, a May-December romance blossoms with one of her hunky tenants.
Before you dismiss this as nothing more than a cougar’s fantasy, the film tells a surprisingly emotionally authentic story. Alice acts like a real woman would act in this situation, as do her two daughters. Writer / director Hallie Meyers-Shyer sometimes stumbles over writing credible male characters, most notably Alice’s estranged husband Austen (the ever-charming Michael Sheen), and the group of young guys (have you ever met a twentysomething bachelor who purposely buys flowers at a farmer’s market to decorate his apartment)? But Meyers aces the dialogue that’s designed to appeal to the over 40 set (“You’re telling me you have live-in child care, 24/7 tech support, and regular sex?,” snorts one of Alice’s best friends).
There’s nothing even remotely offensive about this fizzy, feel-good movie and the performances (including a truly enjoyable turn from Candice Bergen as Alice’s former movie star mom) mirror the overall tone with their light and breezy air. Some of the characters are paper-thin, however, and have no reason to exist (like Lake Bell‘s demanding socialite), and several scenes fall flat under the weight of their predictability.
Still, this is a harmless, simple and straightforward movie with appealing actors and a kind-hearted tone. Overall it’s a sweet movie that will entertain its target audience.